You might be forgiven for believing that Glasgow's music scene
had dug a hole for itself and returned to the underground. Yet
5 years ago the city was the most happening anywhere - a diverse
indie scene based at the 13th Note and spearheaded by Belle and
Sebastian and Mogwai, while the likes of Travis were bubbling
through in the wake of Oasis' infamous 'discovery' at King Tut's.
Ironically this rapid rise to success may have been the problem, a case of too much too soon. A hangover was brewing - the city became overrun by Oasis clone bands while last year the DT's finally kicked in as the 13th Note wound up. Meanwhile the world press, who'd descended on Glasgow for 15 minutes, swiftly packed up and left in search of next week's Seattle, as the apparently more appealing hotspots of New York and Wales came along. It's telling that the only real success came for the Cosmic Rough Riders, who somehow hit the top 40 from Castlemilk with minimal national press. Yes, try as the likes of 192 do to promote the scene, the media is London-based, and Glasgow - or indeed Watford - seems a long way away when you're settled in a trendy Camden boozer. Yet. somehow, Glasgow has actually developed a resilience. It's got over the lull and, without any outside assistance - or interference - is now re-emerging.
So, get ready to rediscover a music scene as lively and vibrant as it was 5 years ago. More so in fact - the 13th Note bands have got over the culty 'post rock' and actually started to make music with a wider appeal; bis and the Chemikal Underground crew have improved with age, and the bands who could see past lad-rock have developed and are finding their own voices.
It often seems that Glasgow has more bands per head of population
than anywhere and the city acts as a magnet to young musicians,
often choosing the city as a place of further education. Take
multiple-member collective The Reindeer Section boasting as it
does members originally from Lewis, Belfast and, er, Falkirk.
Elgin punksters Purple Munkie likewise followed the bright lights,
and similarly The Boy Cartographer's members came to Glasgow to
study - having teamed up via local indie acts Pentothal and The
Nova Express, they've settled on a wistful, evocative style of
music - at times complex, but still as tuneful as you'll hear.
John Peel would surely agree having played their demo, while in
the case of Camera Obscura the nation spoke, voting them high
up Peel's annual Radio One poll.
Another act, fresh from T in the Park, are Odeon Beat Club. Their brand of jangling bouncy pop - that's right, tunes you can whistle - has been turning record company heads, lured by their simple-yet-anthemic choruses.
Of course, it's not all lovely in the Glasgow garden. Some of the baddest music comes from Lapsus Linguae whose bizarre hybrid of classically-based tunes and punk rock is delivered with a performance as spiky as their hair. Also, there's the none-more-black metal of Macrocosmica - remarkably led by the ex-drummer from Teenage Fanclub - and the marginally more chart-friendly Torqamada whose blend of garage and hair-rock is making waves (ho ho). And also making the crossover, Aereogramme mix sensitive ballads with all-out RAWK.
More fuel to any anti-Glasgow conspiracy theory is the simple fact that Josephine aren't already all over music press. They have everything the likes of The Strokes have, times two - a hatful of tunes, charismatic presence, and a sound which takes thrashy garage as its blueprint and effortlessly blends it with elements of The Fall and the Wedding Present.
If their so-catchy-it-hurts tunes are still too left-field for you then there are a few acts carrying the pop/rock banner. Kasino combine the epic sweep of Radiohead or U2 but using distinctively sparse arrangements. Also worth a listen are Bubblecraft, Manganese or Aether who, now that Oasis have finally run out of steam, offer guitar rock with a bit of bite.
So don't believe the lack of hype. Support local talent. Who knows, in the corner of a darkened pub you might just find the next Travis or Mogwai.